Ex-World champ Karamjit for Maharashtra Rally

Nashik, June 7 (IANS) Malaysia's ace driver Karamjit Singh and his long-time co-driver Jagdev Singh will headline the Mahindra Adventure Rally of Maharashtra, the second round of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, to be run here this weekend.

Backed by JK Tyre, the 51-year-old Karamjit Singh, the multiple Asia Pacific Rally champion and winner of the 2002 World Rally Championship (Production class), will be driving a modified Volkswagen Polo for Slideways Industries in the Indian Rally Championship (IRC) class along with team-mate Rohan Pawar (Arjun Mehta) who will also compete in the Junior INRC category.

The two-day event, to be run entirely on tarmac surface, has attracted 29 entries, including nine in the 2000cc class that will be headed by first round winner Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik) in a Mitsubishi Cedia.

The 2000cc class will also have Ghosh's former Red Rooster team-mate and the 2004 National champion Vikram Mathias (Srikant Gowda) who is returning to rallying after a two-year break, driving the Cedia of Vikram Devadasen, the runner-up in the first round.

The other highlight of the Rally of Maharashtra will be former National champion Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif) who will be driving the Mahindra XUV 500 in the SUV class, along with his Team Mahindra colleagues Lohit Urs (Bonnie Thomas) and Sunny Sidhu (PV Srinivasa Murthy).

Gill underlined his status as country's best rally driver with a brilliant win in the first round in Chennai where he topped the time sheets, but the SUV class is outside the National championship and run concurrently.

The buzz of course concerns the presence of Karamjit Singh who will be rallying in India for only the third time, and driving for Slideways Industries which has entered five VW Polo cars, all running on JK Tyre. However, Karamjit, being a foreigner, will not be eligible for championship points.

"We have been thinking of getting back to rallying for a while. To take our partnership with Volkswagen further, we have taken this step in association with Slideways Industries to first develop the hardware and thereafter launch a full-fledged program for Team JK Tyre," said Sanjay Sharma, Head-Motorsport, JK Tyre and Industries Ltd.

The grid also comprises of eight entries in the 1600cc class headed by first round winner Sirish Chandran (Nikhil Pai) in a VW Polo and seven in the Junior INRC class where first round winner Suhem MK (Jeeva Rathinam) will be looking to consolidate his position.

The rally will commence Friday evening with the 2.03 Kms long Super Special Stage at the Dadasaheb Phalke Smarak facility before heading out of Nashik on Saturday for two loops of three Special Stages. The event will conclude on Sunday afternoon after the competitors complete another loop of the Special Stages. The total distance of the Rally is 532.31 km of which 108.50 km comprise competitive section.

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